Caracas, February 22, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s Central Bank announced Monday that it would begin printing 500 and 1000 Bolivar bills while phasing out bills of smaller denominations.
The move comes in response to the country’s soaring inflation– born of an economic crisis triggered by the collapse of global oil prices– which averaged 141% in 2015, according to official figures released last month.
In addition to printing larger bills, the Central Bank will gradually ease 2 and 5 Bolivar bills out of circulation in an effort that is expected to improve the efficiency of the monetary system, reducing costs and alleviating long lines to withdraw cash.
The announcement follows on a series of emergency economic measures unveiled by President Maduro last week that include changes to the country’s currency exchange rate aimed at reining in inflation.
Russia to Up Investment in Joint Oil Venture
Venezuelan Oil Minister Eulogio del Pino announced the signing of a new agreement with Russian state oil company Roseneft to expand its participation in a joint venture with Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA in the Orinoco Belt.
According to the minister, the state oil giant “increased its share from 16 to 40% in the PetroMonagas mixed enterprise”, amounting to a further $500 million dollar investment.
Last May, the two countries signed a deal for $16 billion in Russian investment in Venezuela’s Orinoco Belt, which contains some of the largest crude oil reserves on the planet.
The move comes on the heels of a new agreement signed by Russia, Venezuela, Qatar, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia last week which will see the major oil exporters freeze production at January levels in a bid to stabilize tumbling global prices.
Negotiations remain ongoing, however, as Russia and Venezuela lobby other OPEC and non-OPEC producers to sign on to the deal.
Brent and West Texas Intermediate oil opened Monday at $34.42 and $32.68, representing an increase of 75 and 65 cents, respectively.
World oil prices have declined by 75% since mid 2014, devastating countries such as Venezuela, which depends on black gold for over 95% of its export earnings.